Football: Singapore will explore joint World Cup bid

Singapore fans cheering on the Lions during a match against Malaysia at the National Stadium.
Singapore fans cheering on the Lions during a match against Malaysia at the National Stadium. PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER

FAS doesn't rule out possibility of the Republic co-hosting 2034 Finals but highlights challenges

Football Association of Singapore (FAS) president Lim Kia Tong yesterday tempered expectations of the 2034 World Cup being co-hosted in the Republic.

The costs would be huge and it would require massive support from the government, he said.

It was also questionable if the country's present infrastructure could accommodate such a massive project, the FAS chief told The Straits Times. He said: "If everything is positive, this will be an excellent opportunity to get into the history books of Fifa, like a dream come true. But it is not a simple desire, wish or dream.

"We have seen from past examples like from Brazil that it involves the whole country in terms of logistics, transportation, and infrastructure. There are so many amenities that must come into play. All this involves a lot of money."

The 2014 World Cup in Brazil cost an estimated US$15 billion (S$20.75 billion) to host.

Joko Driyono, the vice-president of the Football Association of Indonesia (PSSI), announced on Wednesday that Indonesia had proposed to lead the South-east Asian consortium for a 2034 World Cup bid during an Asean Football Federation council meeting in Vietnam. The deadline for this is 2026.

He added that geographical and infrastructural demands meant that only two or three of the 10 Asean member countries could host matches. Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam co-hosted the 2007 AFC Asian Cup.

REALITY CHECK

We have seen from past examples like from Brazil that it involves the whole country in terms of logistics, transportation, and infrastructure. There are so many amenities that must come into play. All this involves a lot of money.

LIM KIA TONG , Football Association of Singapore president, on the challenges Singapore will face if it is part of a joint South-east Asian World Cup bid.

Despite the obstacles, the FAS is keen to explore working with its Indonesian counterparts.

An FAS spokesperson said: "We have not had any preliminary discussions with PSSI regarding a joint World Cup bid. It is an interesting proposition and there are a lot of factors to consider. We look forward to engaging with PSSI to explore the possibility of such a bid."

A joint South-east Asian bid was also put forward in October 2013, with then-FAS president Zainudin Nordin announcing that Singapore was planning to lead an Asean bid to host the 2030 World Cup. But the plan did not materialise.

Malcolm Thorpe, vice-president of sports development and events at Lagardere Sports, was cautious about the viability of the World Cup project.

He said: "In order to be successful, it would need countries to initiate a significant programme or venue development across the region such as upgrading the stadium facilities within South-east Asia."

Next year's World Cup will take place in Russia while Qatar will host the 2022 edition.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 07, 2017, with the headline 'S'pore will explore joint World Cup bid'. Print Edition | Subscribe